"Where can you purchase a fully programmable lon programmable controller, say 8x8 card and NOT have to utilize the manufactures specific tools....I am not sure how different this is than BACnet, aside from the service difference."
Distech provides plugins for both Tridium and LNS. So I can buy a Distech programmable without any specific software purchase from Distech. It's free and I can use whatever LNS software to open the plugin and program the device.
I can also buy a Circon programmable and they have their software in a plugin so I don't need any specific Circon software to configure that device although they charge $$$ for their plugin. (Shows where Distech's thinking is far superior)
Anyway, the truth is that if there wasn't this closed bacneticized ASHRAE garbage way of specifications you would be having more of the LON based competition providing more and more convenient and cost effective ways of giving people easy ways to use their programmables.
The ASHRAE bacnetters have to date effectively stifled the market by specifying a strong dose of closed systems and calling that "open". That's just another way how they line the pockets of their cronies.